A senior US Department of State official has delivered a major speech to boost and praise Washington’s “robust relationship” with Taiwan.
The speech was made to answer recent charges and criticisms that the relationship was not going well and that the US had failed to provide Taiwan with the weapons systems it needs.
Acknowledging that Washington is having its own problems right now with the Congressional shutdown of the US government, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kin Moy said that in the circumstances both the Department of State and the White House believed it was important “to make a statement about our relationship with Taiwan.”
In a keynote speech to a Carnegie Endowment conference on “Cross-strait developments in 2013,” Moy said the US’ friendship with Taiwan was “in a very good place.”
He said his remarks were in contrast with “misconceptions” about the relationship.
“A lot of people on the outside don’t realize how much we have done,” Moy said. “We want to dispel the notion that we are not in a positive area with Taiwan — in fact I think it is just the opposite — and I am very optimistic about the relationship.”
Former director of the American Institute in Taiwan Douglas Paal said that Moy “sits in the cockpit” of US policymaking and that he spoke with authority for the US government.
Moy said the relationship with Taiwan encompassed business, culture, education, environmental protection and security ties.
“Maintaining and deepening our unofficial relationship with Taiwan is an important part of our engagement in Asia, a region of great and growing importance to the US,” he said. “A critical part of our strategy is building a comprehensive and durable mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Taiwan.”
He said the relationship was founded on shared values and a commitment to freedom and democracy.
“Our engagement with Taiwan has supported the economic and political success story that Taiwan is today,” he said.
Taiwan, he said, was recognized around the world as a model for economic development and democratic reform.
“Our relationship is multifaceted and overwhelmingly in the US’ national interest,” he said.
“Taiwan remains a close partner with whom we engage in a full range of substantive interactions, including trade negotiations, scientific and technical cooperation, environmental protection, academic and cultural exchanges, delegation visits and other forms of cooperation,” he said. “This relationship is in robust good health.”
He said there was still work to be done on trade agreements and that Taiwan would benefit by further liberalizing and opening its markets.
At the same time he stressed that it was important to acknowledge Taiwan’s status as a positive and responsible contributor to the international community.
Washington fully supports Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement, he said, and it has encouraged Taiwan’s meaningful participation in organizations where membership is not possible.
“We do not see any inconsistency between developing a partnership with China and maintaining a strong unofficial relationship with Taiwan,” Moy said.
“Indeed, this is an essential part of the rebalance to Asia. It is very much in our interests to see an improvement in cross-strait relations,” he said.